A NASA astronomer has named an asteroid she discovered after Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

"Although many asteroids have been named, very few have been named to honor the contributions of women (and particularly women of color)," Amy Mainzer, an astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in a blog post Thursday.

The discoverer has the right to propose a name to the asteroid, according to the rules of the International Astronomical Union.

Mainzer and her team made the discovery in 2010 inside a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. 

The asteroid, whose formal name is now "316201 Malala," revolves around the sun every 5.5 years.

"We are glad to live on a planet that has Malala on it," Mainzer tweeted Friday.

Yousafzai, 17, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2014 for her efforts on behalf of children’s rights.

She gained global attention when she launched a campaign against the Taliban’s prohibition on the education of girls in Pakistan as an 11-year-old. She survived an assassination attempt at age 15.

"If anyone deserves to have an asteroid named after them, she does," Mainzer said. "My advice to young girls is that science and engineering are for everyone!"

Anadolu Agency